Kinship Family Focus Group: Suggestions for Fairfax
Background: Formed Families Forward is assisting Fairfax County Department of Family Services in hosting the kinship family meeting. Fairfax DFS is working with the Northern Virginia Regional Kinship Group and A Second Chance, Inc. (ASCI). They are one of five localities (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun) moving to increase our kinship foster families within our foster care system and to enhance our support for all kinship families within child welfare and our communities. The Regional Kinship Group received a grant from VDSS and Fairfax DFS is working with ASCI to reveal opportunities and challenges in addressing how to engage and work with family/kin as a best-practice response in child welfare. The five localities as well as ASCI have been meeting over the last three months to discuss County policies, procedures, and structure in working with and supporting kinship families throughout the child welfare continuum. In the early phase of this workgroup, ASCI wanted to understand the commonalities and differences and supports we have within each locality in working with kinship families.
The next phase of this project is to complete an environmental scan within each of the five localities. The scan uses the foundational orientation of a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, whereby ASCI engages various stakeholders to gain a true understanding of how philosophies, policies and practices respond to and advocate for kinship care. In-person conversation is the primary channel for gathering information. A conversation is conducted as a focus group, where two facilitators meet with 8-10 identified stakeholders. The stakeholders are classified by job title and years of experience. Additional information is gained from a desk review, which is an examination of documents that are utilized in the continuum of care. To maintain objectivity, the scan is guided by a kinship care readiness rubric. The rubric is a measurement instrument that articulates expectations using numerical values. These values are weighted and build the criteria used to express levels of competency and quality in kinship care. The rubric examines macro criteria (e.g., family value) as well as micro criteria (e.g., licensing and permanency).
The participation of kinship families is a very important part of this environmental scan. ASCI will meet with Children, Youth and Families supervisors, specialists, managers, Directors, foster families, kinship families, CASA, Judges, school social workers, CSA, foster care youth and others to gather information that can be analyzed and interpreted to describe the effectiveness of kinship care throughout the continuum of our child welfare system. These focus groups will take place the week of May 13, 2019. The Kinship family focus group will take place on Tuesday, May 14th at from 6:15pm to 7:15 p.m. (1 hour) at Formed Families Forward’s offices at Mason Enterprise Center, 4031 University Dr., Fairfax VA 22030. Free open lot parking is available at the building. Directions can be found HERE.
Fairfax DFS thanks you in advance for participating in this environmental scan in order to enhance our support for our kinship families throughout the child welfare continuum and within our locality. Please contact Kamonya Omatete, MA, CPM, Program Manager, Fairfax Foster Care and Adoption Program, Kamonya.Omatete@fairfaxcounty.gov with any questions regarding the environmental scan or the logistics.
We hope you can make it on May 14. Cheers!